Watauga County citizens had an opportunity to tell their
experiences with a failed American health-care system at a “Share Your Health
Care Story Drop-In” event on July 23 at the Watauga County
Volunteers from the Watauga County Democratic Party
videotaped personal health-care stories to share with members of Congress and
with the general public. Several people complained that they had been dropped
from insurance coverage due to “pre-existing conditions” or were forced to end
their coverage because their premiums shot up past what they could afford.
One woman said her daughter had taken antidepressants for a
short period as a teen. She is now in her early twenties and otherwise healthy,
but she has been denied coverage because of that past antidepressant use.
Another family included one parent with cancer and a disabled child who not
only has not been able to get health insurance but who has been denied Social
Security disability twice.
A representative from the Community Care Clinic, a volunteer
group of health-care professionals offering free medical care, wondered how her
clients could afford to pay health-insurance premiums when they can’t even afford
the $4 prescriptions at Wal-Mart.
A recurring theme was that some Washington officials don’t seem to care. One
participant said, “Members of Congress have theirs, and they don’t care about
mine.” Others wondered how a great country such as ours could deny its citizens
the right to basic, affordable health care.
“I was not surprised to hear the stories of the uninsured,”
said Pam Williamson, an organizer of the event who interviewed participants. “Their
plight is an embarrassment for our country and clearly needs to be addressed.
What struck me most at the Drop-In were the stories of those who DO have
insurance. They are scared and rightly so. Their health care premium, copay and
deductible costs have skyrocketed so through the roof, they are literally on
the edge of losing their insurance.”
“In many cases, an increase of another $10, $20 or $30 a
month forces them into the ranks of the uninsured,” said Williamson. “This is
the failure of our country to get cost of insurance under control. And this is
exactly where we are headed: more and more families uninsured, leaving those
with insurance paying more to cover not only themselves but the uninsured as
well. It’s a vicious cycle, and without a commitment from Washington, we will not come anywhere close
to addressing this immediate problem.”
All those testifying said they would hold Senators Burr and
Hagan and Congresswoman Foxx accountable for their actions regarding health-care
reform, and that they would not campaign or vote for them in the next election
if something wasn’t done now about reforming health care. All agreed that a
public option must be included in any health-care legislation so that everyone
would have access, and insurance companies would have to compete.